Stats: Superhero Comic YA Series, Volume 1, 144 pages, First Published by Marvel, April 2004.
My Rating: 4 STARS
A lot of people these days cringe when they hear the words "origin story" and I can't blame them. There's only so many times you can be told about Superman's fall to earth or how Spider-Man gets those fancy web-slingers. When it comes to the guys that have been around longer then I've been around I think it's safe to say we get the point. Despite this though, I have always had a thing for origins, especially when something new finally comes along.
Runaways has such an amazing story concept. Six kids find out that their parents are part of a very evil looking secret society and it turns out they've been keeping all sorts of secrets from their children, from superpowers to murder. Despite how awesome this all sounds, the odds that it would all work perfectly had me a little wary of Runaways. The success of an origin story has everything to do with establishing character and motive. What worried me initially was just how many introductions needed to be crammed into 144 pages. I mean, we're talking twelve parents and six kids in total. That's a lot of information on top of establishing the plot.
For the start of a series, this book actually surprised me. Not only did it manage to pull of the general introductions (although sometimes a little messily, which I can forgive) it also managed to create a sense of suspense and mystery that I wasn't expecting.
The way each teenager has their own distinct powers and personality made things really interesting. I mean, they've got it all in the stereotypical one from every click sort of way, yet they're not forcing their differences onto the reader. In this first volume the writing does a great job of making it clear that they're all in the same boat here. The only thing that bugged me about the characterization was the parents. Since they are the main antagonists I would have liked to have had more of an introduction to who they are so I could better understand their reaction to their teens going rogue.
My only other true complaint about the book would be the cover art on the paperback edition. Although I love the art inside, with it's vivid colouring and great character designs, the art on the cover makes me want to tack on a "I swear it's good.". It just doesn't do the art any sort of justice! I very much prefer the hardcover editions, which are a much better reflection of the characters and story. The paperback edition make them look more like cartoons meant for toy packaging.
|Paperback Edition Cover|
|Hardcover Edition Cover|
Just look at the difference in tone and style! The cover on the right is much more like the art inside the book then the cover on the left. Which one would you be more likely to pick up off the shelf?
On the more positive side, and I almost hate to say this, but this is the book you should give to teenagers in their welcome to teenager-hood package. As a lot of reviewers have said before me, a large amount of the appeal is it's a question of "What would I do?" At the perfect time just when you're starting to doubt everything you've been told about life and where you fit in it, BOOM! Turns out it really was all lies! You don't only have hormones, but you have superpowers, you're parents really are evil, and now you have to deal with the consequences!
This volume one really was a promising start. I'm not only super excited to keep reading, but I want to know more about these characters, about just what is going to happen next and that note near the end filled me with glee. This is definitely going to be an interesting series!